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What I Would Tell Her: 28 Devoted Dads on Bringing Up, Holding On To and Letting Go of Their Daughters Paperback – April 20, 2010

39 customer reviews

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First read by millions worldwide in The New York Times. Gratitude brings together four essays written over the last two years of Sacks' life. Check out "Gratitude". | See more by Oliver Sacks

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this follow-up to Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, editor Richesin presents 28 candid, personal essays that demonstrate why "fathers are arguably the most important men in their daughters' lives." Steering clear of straight sentimentality and saccharine stereotypes, writers including Steve Almond, Rob Spillman, Richard Nash, and Thomas Beller contribute essays that are funny, hopeful, inspiring and sad-often at once. In a funny, vulnerable letter for his pre-teen daughter to read on her 18th birthday, single dad Trey Ellis wonders how she'll feel about his racy memoir Bedtime Stories. Daniel Raeburn's brave, heartbreaking essay, meanwhile, recounts the still-birth of his daughter, who they had already named Irene: "Her name came to me in the night while I was falling asleep, her hands and feet drumming against Rebekah's belly and my palms." Writing with their daughters in mind, each contributor has put obvious care and passion into his piece, turning out anecdotes and insight that will resonate with anyone who has a family.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


What I Would Tell Her tells the world about the savagely beautiful bond between fathers and daughters, and without a drop of sap. Spectacularly achieved, and fascinating from the very first page.
Jason Roberts author of A Sense of the World

What an amazing collection. What I Would Tell Her compiles a wide variety of voices, every one of them powerful, entertaining and often surprising in the way only such personal writing can be.
David Liss, author of The Whiskey Rebels

The heart-whomping tenderness in these essays is startling enough to be called news. What I Would Tell Her offers a direct line into the heart and soul of fathers. This book brought me to my knees.
Karen Karbo, author of The Stuff of Life

As father of a daughter, I am so impressed at how effectively this marvelous anthology captures the wonders and complexities of this relationship. What I Would Tell Her is a book all dads and daughters should read.
Ron Rash, author of Serena

In this exquisite collection about what fathers would tell their daughters, dads lay bare their great hearts. So buy it for every dad you know...if there are any left after I have."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author No Time to Wave Goodbye

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373892101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373892105
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,232,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrea N. Richesin is the editor of four anthologies, Crush: 26 Real-life Tales of First Love; What I Would Tell Her: 28 Devoted Dads on Bringing Up, Holding On To, and Letting Go of Their Daughters; Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond and The May Queen: Women on Life, Love, Work and Pulling It All Together In Your 30s. Her anthologies have been excerpted and praised in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Redbook, Parenting, Cosmopolitan, Bust, Good Housekeeping, and Babble. Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yossarian VINE VOICE on August 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a newly minted dad with a cherished daughter, I was really looking forward to reading "What I Would Tell Her". I envisioned pithy, salient short stories highlighting the wonderful nuances of the unique relationship between each father and daughter. I even dared hope that wiser, more sagacious fathers full of worldly knowledge would provide me with insights into strengthening my own burgeoning relationship with my little ball of kicking, bright-eyed wonder.

Perhaps that was my downfall. Contrary to my expectations, "What I would Tell Her" is not really a collection of profound parenting revelations, heartwarming moments between father and daughter, or even really a compliation in service of a grander theme. To be entirely honest, I found it to be a tedious, largely redundant collection of tales by prickly, self-absorbed men confounded by the odd female creature dropped into their midsts, and dragged kicking and screaming towards unknown truths that never quite materialize in prose. The narrators by and large come across as singularly unsympathetic people, and the daughters seem to range from burdens to obstacles to challenges. In fact, in many stories, the daughter herself recedes into the background of the narrative in a deeply disquieting manner while the father blathers on about his own accomplishments, pontificates about his political beliefs, or generally runs on about the centrality of his own needs.

I think these flaws are grounded in the manner in which this collection was created. It appears that the selection of the short stories was made based primarily on whether the submitting writers were established authors, rather than starting with a focus on wise, good fathers and then finding some that can write.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If the topic and stories sound interesting to you, get this book. The reasonable price of "What I Would Tell Her," along with the fact that this is short stories or essays, make it easy to recommend it. You're not making a big commitment of time or money.

But, it helps to know what to expect, and what not to expect. For starters, as far as I can tell, "What I Would Tell Her" is seriously misnamed. If you were looking for a book full of wisdom and ruminations about what fathers might tell their daughters, there's not a lot of that here. Though there is some wisdom here and there, and lots of soulful meditations on fatherhood, from a wide range of fathers, in a lot of situations.

Also, this is a packaged book, and it shows at times. They started with the idea, recruited some writers with daughters to write stories or essays, and got a bunch of people they know to say nice things about it. (Some of whom clearly haven't read the book. So ignore the comments printed on the book, and the first few reviews here on Amazon.) Not all of the stories seem to need to have been written.

But, if you want some thoughtful ruminations on fatherhood, and stories from different perspectives - you will find some that interest you, enough to make the book worthwhile. So once you get a sense for what a story is about ... don't feel you need to finish it. Look for the stories that interest you.

The stories are often thoughtful, more often than they are joyful, and sometimes thought provoking. They are often bittersweet - but, that's because fatherhood is bittersweet too. And at times, they are sad or even melancholy. If you read this book expecting that, you'll find it an interesting experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wayne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a father, it can be easy to relate to stories told by other fathers because of the common bonds and experiences that fathers share. Or it can be hard to relate because fathers have different cultural and religious backgrounds, different philosophies on parenting, have children of different ages, or have different amounts of experience as fathers. When you ask 28 dads for their perspective, it follows that some of their stories will be easy to relate to, some will put the situations of your friends or acquaintances in perspective, and some will seem to hold scant interest.

It's easy to ask yourself "what I would tell her..." when you are reading about other people's situations. With your own, it becomes a matter of what you did tell them, what you plan to tell them, what you should have told them, or what you would tell them "if...." So the title should not be seen as a literal framework for the essays but a hypothetical one. Some of them may provide food for thought as the years go by, or may evoke memories of experiences of your own. Others may give you a sense of empathy. Chances are that you will find many of the essays emotionally compelling, but which ones will depend on your situation in life. As the father of three teenagers, my perspective is different from what it was when I had babies, but the joy of being a father to little girls stays with one forever.

Given the diversity of styles and content, I doubt it was an easy job for the editor to decide what order to place them in. I did not find the first one to be as compelling as many others, and there should not be an inherent reason that these need be read in any particular order. To the contrary, an emotionally involving one might make it harder to get into the one that follows.
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